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One decision changed everything for MLB draft prospect Josh Anderson

FIU 3B Josh Anderson
Courtesy of FIU Athletics

MIAMI -- Florida International third baseman Josh Anderson has the look of a pro prospect. He's got the size, the strength and the ever so important superstitious mustache.

He also has the stats. So far this season Anderson is hitting .384, slugging .523 and has driven in 20 runs, making him among the best hitters in the C-USA.

His team is doing well too. At 16-4, the FIU Panthers are ranked among the top 25 teams in virtually every poll.

The 21-year-old from San Diego, CA will be eligible for the MLB Draft after this season and would be a logical draft choice for the Miami Marlins.

Amazingly, all this was the effect of the cause that came from a decision he had to make years ago when he was tearing the cover off of balls in high school. He could either play for Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn at San Diego State or he could go to Arizona and play JUCO ball in Yavapai College.

While nearly everyone would choose the big time University, Anderson choose Yavapai because it had the one thing he wanted and the one thing his family wanted.

"It's a wood bat league, Anderson said, "and my dad has been wanting to move to Arizona. He lives in Scottsdale now.

"It's good to play 66 games, get used to the wood bat because I want to get into the Major Leagues eventually."

If that is indeed his goal, Yavapai served him well. Bryce Harper also played a year of JUCO ball in Southern Nevada and the stats he put up with the wooden bat then -- 31 home runs, 98 RBIs, and a .443 batting average -- prepared him for stardom in the show.

But Anderson wasn't quite ready for pro ball just yet. While playing summer ball in the East Coast, he was recruited to come down to Miami and play for coach Turtle Thomas at FIU while earning a degree in liberal studies.

More importantly, returning to metal bats was attractive to Anderson, and it didn't take long for him the feel the difference between a metal bat and a wooden bat.

"It's definitely easier to hit with metal bats because there's a bigger sweet spot and the bat won't break," Anderson said. "I can also move my hands quicker and I get to the pitches faster."

It's amazing to think that Anderson's entire career trajectory came from a simple decision such as which college to go to. Yet it's not crazy to think that if he chose staying home and playing for the local legend, his career trajectory would be completely different but not for the better.

Sometimes that's what makes baseball a special sport. There are many different paths to the same destination.

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